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Barcelona's player Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Racing de Santander during their Spanish first division soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona October 15, 2011 REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino (Gustau Nacarino/Reuters)
Barcelona's player Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Racing de Santander during their Spanish first division soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona October 15, 2011 REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino (Gustau Nacarino/Reuters)

Messi treble keeps Barca on top Add to ...

Gonzalo Higuain’s second consecutive La Liga hat-trick helped Real Madrid beat Real Betis 4-1, but Lionel Messi´s double ensured Barcelona stayed top with a 3-0 victory over Racing Santander.

Messi, the insatiable World Player of the Year, scored in each half at the Nou Camp to take his tally to 10 this season as Barca cruised past a toothless Racing on to 17 points from seven games.

Real were a point back in second after Messi’s Argentina team mate Higuain bagged his third treble in two weeks.

Having scored three against Espanyol, repeated the feat against Chile while on international duty, Higuain took his league tally to eight with a second-half hat-trick at the Bernabeu.

“I’m very pleased. After having to wait so long to play, now I’m enjoying myself a lot,” the 23-year-old told Spanish television, referring to the back injury that kept him sidelined for much of last season, when he lost his place to Karim Benzema.

“I wasn’t playing a few weeks ago and I’m just making the most of my opportunities.”

France defender Adil Rami put Valencia ahead at Real Mallorca in the 38th minute, but they conceded a last-minute penalty.

Tomer Hemed netted from the spot to earn new Mallorca coach Joaquin Caparros a point on his debut at the island club.

Valencia are fourth with 14 points, the same as Levante, who host big-spending Malaga on Sunday.

Struggling Villarreal and Getafe fought out a 0-0 draw at the Coliseum.

PIQUE INJURY

Barca made a poor start against Racing and lost defender Gerard Pique to what appeared to be a muscle injury early on, but Messi soon settled them in front of their own fans.

He combined with Andres Iniesta and snaked his way towards the goal, fooling the visiting keeper, before slotting into the empty net from a tight angle in the 11th minute.

Xavi rose to head the second like a classic number nine between the centre backs in the 28th, and Racing, who have yet to win a game this season under coach Hector Cuper, had little to offer in response.

Messi sealed the victory, firing in after Andres Iniesta’s shot came back off the post in the 67th.

Barca have now scored 21 goals without reply in their first four league games at the Nou Camp this term.

Betis made a feisty start at the Bernabeu until they were torn open just after halftime.

Cristiano Ronaldo bore down on goal and selflessly squared for Higuain to score into the empty net.

Ronaldo helped set up the second goal on the hour, when he passed to Kaka in the area and the Brazilian curled a superb shot inside the far post.

Jorge Molina pulled one back for Betis in the 69th minute but any thoughts of a shock comeback were quickly extinguished when substitute Angel di Maria sent Higuain clear to round the keeper and make it 3-1.

Di Maria fed his Argentina team mate again in the 73rd minute and Higuain sealed his treble with a clever lob over the advancing keeper.

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